Yesterday I experienced my first real bout of Mama guilt. I yelled at Addison.
Annnnnnnd, Cue judgement from the perfect parents.
Smushy is testing out the boundaries of her world. Look, I’m used to boundary testing being a teacher and all. (Plus at 32, I still like to test them out myself on Spouse occasionally.) It doesn’t faze me in the slightest at work. When it happens in my classroom I have no issues in reigning crappy behaviour in with a raised voice, a look or a stern chat. (My look is epic. Perfected over 10 years, terrifying. Even Spouse thinks so.) I don’t feel guilt because well, I’m just doing my job. That is, ensuring the Little’s are learning what they need to learn in a happy and calm environment. But it’s different with your own isn’t it? I do think there’s this huge assumption that the children of teachers are perfectly behaved but I’m starting to feel maybe it’s not so. There’s feelings and emotions attached to dealing with your own child that are very different to dealing with someone else’s.
So what happened? Well she’s taken to grabbing her bowl of food off of me and throwing it on the floor or in my face. Lately she’s been a bit more responsive to accepting food off a spoon so I’ve been offering some. The first time she sort of just accidentally grabbed it and it fell. Then something twigged in her and she made the connection between grabbing and throwing the bowl. I could literally see the brain connection being formed. It was like something out of Look Who’s Talking. “Oh, so I if I grab the bowl here, I can make Mama move real fast, right…” I’d kind of been ignoring it by being faster than her and keeping the bowl away but yesterday she managed to grab it and lob it back at me, coating me and the floor in lovely, staining Spaghetti Bolognaise. Without even thinking, I yelled, ‘Addison, NO!’ 1, 2, 3 and cue hysterics. I’ve never yelled at her before. In my defense it wasn’t that loud but she’s not used to it so it gave her a shock and she responded accordingly. Immediately I felt terrible, just awful. And I have since then.
I feel so guilty, like the worst mother in the world. I cuddled her madly and 5 minutes after it happened, she was fine. But I can’t stop thinking about it. And feeling terrible. I know in reality what I did was very, very minor but some people would have you believe that raising your voice is as damaging as raising your fist. There are some who say mothers should be forever grateful for the gift of a child and this should translate into constant Mother Teresa behaviour. But I’m human and fallible. And I don’t particularly enjoy having food thrown in my face. There will be times when Addison’s behaviour will be less than perfect and we will have to deal with this. But oh my, it’s hard.
When this kind of stuff happens, it’s so easy to feel like the only person in the world. Parenting can be so isolating. I’m very lucky to have friends who are open and honest about their experiences. I am also so lucky to know some people who are not. Or perhaps they are perfect? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, what good comes from pretending everything is 100% happy, happy; joy, joy all the time? Too exhausting. Being real, being open is liberating. It might be difficult at first, but once you open up, it’s a relief.
Thank you for letting me get this off my chest. Now excuse me whilst I go stick my face in the sugar bowl.